When was the last you did your mental wellbeing checkup?

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. Almost all newspapers had multiple conversation pieces on this very important topic. The World Mental Health Day has always been around, but it has only been post the pandemic that people have realised the importance of mental health/wellbeing.

The stigma surrounding mental wellbeing is not new. And it is certainly not restricted to India. In my conversations with a friend based out of Nigeria, I noticed a similar culture brewing. My friend is unable to move out of a mentally abusive marriage. Her concerns revolve around ‘what will the community say?, “how will the children react?, and ‘how will my husband manage without me..?

The fact that she ought to think of herself and her wellbeing never even occurred to her. We certainly fail miserably when it comes to self-care and self-love.

Mental wellbeing is deeply connected to how we love and perceive our own self. What identity do we believe in, what is our value system and how we are aligned with our inner soul…When we neglect this very vital piece of ourselves, we stand to lose our own self-worth and confidence.

Mental wellbeing in our drawing rooms

Do you remember the last time you fell ill? Maybe you had a bad bout of the flu. Or your stomach played tricks on you and you were in deep pain. It is most likely that you consulted a physician and took medication to heal. Reaching out to a medical doctor is almost second nature.

But, do we do the same when our mind gives in? When we see stress slowly creeping in and squeezing every ounce of our energy…or when everything around us seems to be dark and gloomy…do we reach out for professional medical help? Majority of people are likely to either ignore the above or brush it aside or, talk to a friend and accept this phenomenon as part of their karma and life, so, que sera sera…

Over the years, many such moments get bottled up inside and then one day, boom! The trigger gets pulled by perhaps some innocuous event or remark, and things are no longer the same. The pandemic can be thought of one such trigger that has acted as a catalyst to bring in the conversations surrounding mental wellbeing in our drawing rooms.

18 months ago we were worried about adjusting to a work from home atmosphere, today, we are deeply concerned about having to go back to that so called ‘normal’ life. School children whom I have spoken with, are unsure of how to socialise. Colleagues who were burdened with daily commute, dread going back to the grind and would rather work at their own place and in their own pace. While the exhilaration of having finally getting to meet face-to-face is very uplifting, deep down there is seems to be a sense of paranoia on once again adjusting to a different way of working and living. For surely, office spaces too have changed, and it would be foolish to think that everything will now go back to square one. Far from it. Life itself has changed.

Talking it out

As human beings, we are very fragile and yet, we are ones who are most malleable to changing situations and we can often surprise our own selves by pushing the envelope and creating new boundaries.

PR and communications have always been one of the most stress prone industries. The consultancies are supposed to work around the clock and always be there to mitigate crisis. Same is the case with communicators who have to be on the vigil all the time and be crisis prepared. With such huge demand on time, our own efforts on loving our selves and taking care of our soul, get pushed to the background.

Time has come for all of us to reclaim our soul and our heart. Pay attention to our own healing. Listen to our bodies. Do a rain check on our mental wellbeing. Actually, taking a chill pill and just letting it all go. Loving our own self is a work in progress, on a daily basis.

The key to a sound mental wellbeing lies with us, within us.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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